Texas’ Budget Woes: Jan. 26, 2011

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Texas Hospitals Could Face Cuts in Federal Funds (Emily Ramshaw at The Texas Tribune)

Texas hospital administrators aren’t thrilled by the Medicaid rate cuts they’re facing in the House’s proposed 2012-13 budget. But it’s the state’s plan to expand Medicaid managed care that’s keeping their CFOs up at night.

Proposed cuts in the rates health care providers are paid for treating patients covered by Medicaid would cost Texas hospitals a total of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But that’s nothing, hospital officials say, compared to the expansion of Medicaid managed care — which could wipe out more than $1 billion in federal funds that sustain them each year.

“I would hope,” said Charles Barnett, president and CEO of the Seton Family of Hospitals, “that whatever solution we derive at the state Legislature does not reduce the amount of federal funds that comes into the state to help us provide care.”

Five more articles after the jump…

All Eyes of Shrinking Texas Budget (Steve Habel of Austin Business Journal):

Texas public schools’ budgets would be cut by $5 billion, including reductions in teacher incentive pay, arts education and money for schools to administer steroid testing. The state’s Foundation School Program — the pool of money distributed to schools using formulas based on daily attendance — would be reduced more than $4 billion.

Also proposed are ways to save $2.3 billion in state general revenue funds via the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and other health and human services. The first draft recommends slashing $2 billion from Medicaid, CHIP and food stamps and includes a $241 million dollar cut in state health services.

Pre-K Programs Vulnerable as Schools Confront Cuts (Morgan Smith at The Texas Tribune):

Just how important is full-day pre-kindergarten for the state’s youngest and most disadvantaged kids? Is it more important than after-school tutoring? Than canceling music and art classes? As public school officials brace for a proposed $10 billion less in state funding, that’s one they’ll have to make.

AISD to Cut Close to 500 Jobs (Fox 7):

AISD held a meeting Monday evening that went late into the night. At the end, the school board voted to eliminate 485 positions, most of them teachers.  Board members looked at campus-based staffing cuts, including teachers, librarians and parent support specialists.  They also debated changes to the proposed staffing cuts until almost midnight.

In the end, they decided to accept the plan to cut hundreds of jobs, but trustees saved elementary school librarians from being cut — a decision supported by Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.

Non-Profits Brace for Budget Cuts (Ben Philpott at KUT):

Governor Rick Perry has repeatedly said cutting the budget without raising revenue is the only way to keep the state’s economic engine strong. And as he told the crowd at his inauguration, a strong Texas will take care of those in need.“As Texans we’ve always taken care of the least among our population. The frail, the young, the elderly,” said Perry, “people whose needs are greater than the resources at their disposal. They can count on the people of Texas to be there for them.”

The implication being that help may not come through state agencies, but will be there from local non-profit services providers. The problem is those same organizations get a good chunk of their money from the state.

Eva DeLuna Castro follows the state budget for the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a progressive state policy think tank. She says when you factor in payments for client services or straight out contracts or grants to local non-profits, between 50 and 80 percent of an individual state program’s budget is being sent to local non-profits. […]

There’s also a bit of an economic double-whammy at play. The same economic troubles that have led to the state’s budget crisis have led to a drop in charitable donations from individuals and foundations. And on top of that, thousands of Texans, including state employees and teachers, could lose their jobs once budget cuts are put in place. Those families could end up needing help of their own soon.

“I think it’s tempting to think that these are problems that affect those people over there,” said Theresa Tod, executive director of Texas Network of Youth Services, an agency that provides training and coordination with groups across the state. She worries that until the state’s economy can make a full recovery, there will be an increase in people needing the help that the agencies she works with can provide.

“It’s all kind of families that can run into a bad spot,” said Tod, “you know, run into a problem they didn’t anticipate and when there’s a crisis and someone needs support. You want that safety net to be there.”

Faith-Based Groups Brace for Brutal Budget Cuts (Christopher A. Smith at The Texas Tribune):

It was inaugural day of the 82nd legislative session, and new and returning lawmakers were streaming into the pink granite building to begin their work.

“Vote as if you had nowhere to escape from this cold,” Steven Folberg, rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Austin, implored legislators in his prayer. “Vote as if you are hungry and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. Vote as if you felt vulnerable and unprotected.”

Like many other Texas groups, faith organizations that lobby lawmakers are facing a brutal budgetary session. Texas Impact, a statewide interfaith organization that includes Congregation Beth Israel, is one of several faith-based groups working to help spare some of the state’s most vulnerable — the poor, the disabled, the elderly and children — from the brunt of the deep cuts lawmakers are contemplating. While the list of social issues each of the groups will take on this year may differ, they agree that the consequences of the budget crisis will affect them all. And it’s not only a moral issue for the religious groups; it concerns their own bottom lines, too. Because when the government doesn’t provide for the needy, the needy look to the church and other faith-based organizations.


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